Books I read in 2016

  • Written by: Marko Samastur
  • Published on:
  • Category: Catchall

...were very few. This year has been a reading disaster. I have never read so few books since I learned to read. My list would be even shorter if it did not contain three items ambitiously described as books by publishers. If I change nothing this year, I will definitely change this.

Which is not to say I did not read much. It was a US presidential election year and I read too many things that on the whole did not do me much good except further erode an already low opinion of mainstream journalism. I may (or not) come back to this in my annual review of past year. Also watched too much (good) TV.

Interestingly all my reading was done either on tablet (first 4 items) or Kindle (last two), both of which worked well and neither being perfect. However I expect this to be more common as convenience can't be ignored.

I haven't read much, but I can still recommend one book: The Oracle of Oil. Generally, I don't see a point in reading biographies and reading a book from the author you personally know also carries a risk of what to do if you don't like their work. Luckily for me Mason's book is excellent. A meticulously researched and engaging story of a father of peak oil kept me interested all the way through and left me pondering the power of wishful groupthink and (in)effectiveness of data substantiated arguments.

  • AngularJS Up & Running by Shyam Seshadri and Brad Green . A good introduction to 1.x version of AngularJS framework that gives you a solid overview of what can be done and how you should go about it without getting lost in advanced specifics.
  • React.js Essentials by Artemij Fedosejev. A gentle introduction to React.js and Flux avoiding rest of React's ecosystem as it does building complex, multi-screen applications. Still good first book to read on the subject.
  • The Secrets Behind Great One-On-One Meetings by Esther Schindler. From a series of recent O'Reilly short books (booklets?). Excellent guide on how to conduct effective one-on-one meetings (or receving one). Recommended for everyone with a job.
  • Designing Culture by Kristi Woolsey. Another booklet, but not as good as the previous one. Too few practical examples and because of author's background it focuses mainly on using architecture/design to influence culture. Still useful if you are in a position to influence or change working environment.
  • La Mujer Alta by Pedro Antonio de Alarc√≥n. Not so much a book as a short story, but it was the first longer text I read mostly in Spanish (with a lot of help from interleaved English text). It is a story I suspect just did not age well since 19th century when it was written. Skip unless you are learning Spanish.
  • The Oracle of Oil: A Maverick Geologist's Quest for a Sustainable Future by Mason Inman. An engaging biography of M.K.Hubbert, the father of "peak oil". It is more than just a story of a brilliant man pushing an unpopular view and provides an opportunity to draw lessons still relevant today.

This year I will achieve my plan of reading more books than last year as I could hardly read fewer. Some fiction would be nice and another Spanish book would be welcome too. My goal is again 15 books, but if I don't read at least 10, then, well... I have a year to think of a suitable punishment.

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